There is a current trend amongst health enthusiasts to add squeezed lemon to water for a number of health benefits. However often it is not appreciated that lemons can actually be doing your teeth great harm, even if diluted in a large amount of water!
Dental erosion is the loss of tooth enamel, as a result of acid attack. When the enamel is ‘dissolved’ away, it leaves the underlying dentine exposed (a more yellow version of enamel). The loss of dental enamel and exposure of dentine can lead to painful sensitivity and make your teeth more susceptible to decay.
Lemon juice has a very high acid content and is possibly one of the most erosive foods you can consume. Therefore over time, routine consumption of lemon juice will erode your enamel. Not only are eroded teeth unaesthetic (hollowed and yellow), they can cause your teeth to be extremely sensitive when eating hot or cold food or drink.
One should be aware of the acidity levels of the foods and drinks they consume. Just some of the foods and drinks that cause dental erosion are:
-fruit juices (orange, apple, grapefruit etc)
Guys and girls with bulimia or acid reflux, are quite susceptible to dental erosion, as stomach acid used to digest food is strong enough to dissolve tooth enamel. Frequent vomiting puts your teeth in regular contact with stomach acid, and puts you at risk of dental erosion.
-Dilute the lemon juice as much as possible, to make it less acidic.
-Drink the lemon water through a straw (so you limit its tooth) contact.
-After drinking the lemon water, rinse your mouth with pure water immediately.
-Or chew sugar-free gum after consuming the lemon water as chewing gum stimulates saliva, so all of its ‘good bits’ can help neutralise the acid levels in your mouth.
-Brush your teeth, with a soft bristled toothbrush, at least 60 minutes after drinking the lemon water. Preferably use a fluoridated toothpaste, as fluoride strengthens your teeth (but, if you would prefer to use a non-fluoridated toothpaste, ask your dentist or the Fillinggaps panel what suitable alternatives would be) and brush gently. It may sound strange to hold off brushing your teeth, but this is because acid leaves the enamel softened and more prone to erosion shortly after an acid attack!
-Eat dairy products after consuming acidic foods and drinks, as dairy products help buffer the saliva and provide protection after an acidic attack.
If you already have dental erosion, then consult with your dentist. Depending on its severity, your dentist may recommend a desensitising paste or treatments such as sealants, composite resin bonding, or veneers in order to reduce sensitivity, restore aesthetics and protect your remaining tooth structure.
Of course you may need the nutrients, vitamins and other ‘good stuff’ in certain foods, so by all means don’t rule them out when creating your nutrition and meal plan. However do consider your dental health. Not only will it prevent unwanted tooth discomfort, it will help save you unnecessary time at the dentist and lessen the chance of needing comprehensive dental work that may need to be maintained for life.
We recommend seeing your dentist regularly as they are trained to be able to identify early signs of erosion. If you don’t have a current dentist use the search function of www.fillinggaps.co.nz or ask us to help find the right one for you!